Files Reveal Accusations against Crusader Priest

By Robin Washington
Boston Herald
February 7, 2003

In his public life, the Rev. Paul P. Rynne was the Boston church's embodiment of tolerance as head of its Commission on Human Rights during the 1960s.

In a 1967 Herald article, the man who the next year would lead a delegation of priests to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s funeral called for the church to spearhead a "bold, full-scale mobilization" against racism, warning the times demanded action, not "academic theorizing or debate."

But unknown to many who joined him in that struggle, there were allegedly actions of his own that were far less honorable, according to Rynne's personnel file, which was released yesterday.

In it are allegations that Rynne, while pastor of St. Bonaventure in Manomet in 1986, engaged in inappropriate behavior with a 17-year-old, leading to therapy for the priest at the House of Affirmation and Southdown clergy treatment centers.

Reinstated to active service at Brockton's St. Margaret's parish a year later, Rynne, who died in 2001, was hit by a second allegation in 1994 of sexually abusing a boy in the 1960s, a charge he admitted, according to the files. At least two other claims have ensued, including a suit filed last month by a man represented by attorney Mitchell Garabedian.

Roderick MacLeish, the attorney who released Rynne's file, which was obtained in the Rev. Paul R. Shanley case, said Rynne's record further illustrates a pattern by Bernard Cardinal Law of reinstating accused priests. He also blasted the archdiocese for allowing its accused priests to work out of state - as did retired Boston priest the Rev. Richard G. Johnson until this week, when he was suspended by the Diocese of Palm Beach after the release of his file.

"Bishop (Richard G.) Lennon should order an internal investigation to make sure none of these guys are in service in any other diocese," MacLeish said in an appeal to Law's successor.

In the criminal arena, new charges were filed yesterday against Franciscan Brother Fidelis DeBerardinis, who now faces 11 counts of indecent assault on a child for alleged acts at East Boston's Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church from 1968-73.

Previous indictments against DeBerardinis were dismissed after officials acknowledged the offenses he had been charged with did not exist when the alleged abuse occurred.


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